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Baseball: Red Sox return from journey

By Howard Ullman
Associated Press
BOSTON ó The cramped clubhouse looked pretty good to the Boston Red Sox.
From Tokyo to Toronto and finally to Fenway Park, players were relieved just to be home after a 19-day journey that ended with a three-game sweep by the Blue Jays.
“We’re fine,” Dustin Pedroia said Monday, surrounded at his locker by cartons. “I feel great. I think that toward the end of that road trip I started getting adjusted to the time and now I’m ready for the long haul.”
Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to need a little more time.
Standing amid the clutter in front of his locker, the rookie outfielder said shortly after noon, “I’m real tired. I actually just got up 20 minutes ago.”
One day before their home opener against Detroit, the Red Sox were still in some strange territory after their three-nation sojourn ó last place.
Not a great start, but no cause for alarm, especially since they’re finally in a country where they haven’t lost.
“We’ve only played seven games, so it’ll be a lot better playing these home games,” said Pedroia, one of about a half-dozen players to show up on the off day. “We’ll be back in the cold weather and we’ll figure out a way to win.”
Boston goes into tonight’s game with a 3-4 record. Being home, though, might not make winning easier. The highly touted Tigers have played all six of their games at home ó and lost every one.
They have baseball’s second-highest payroll. The Red Sox are ranked fourth. There’s plenty of season left for both teams to get their money’s worth.
“They’re going to be raring to go. So will we,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We’re talking about two teams that think they can be pretty good.”
The Red Sox should, finally, be a rested team.
They left their spring training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., for Japan right after their game on March 19. They played two exhibition games against Japanese teams, then split the first two games of the regular season against Oakland.
Then they traveled to California where they played three more exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After that they flew up the coast to Oakland, it was on to the other side of North America for a series in Toronto.
“It’s nice to have some clean clothes,” Francona said in his office. “We can talk about this till we’re blue in the face. Every time we walk somebody or we make an error, if somebody asks did the Japan trip (hurt)? Our job is to play good baseball.”

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